Seventh Street Books, the mystery imprint of local publisher Prometheus Books, has quickly found its stride. Formed less than two years ago, Seventh Street already has a reputation for signing authors who bring solid literary cred to their tales of suspense.
Among those authors is Adrian McKinty, a native of Northern Ireland and creator of Sean Duffy, a less than perfect Catholic police officer who works for the Protestant Constabulary – the enemy in the eyes of many of his friends.
Or, in some cases, former friends.
Duffy is on the job in the early 1980s, when Northern Ireland was torn by civil unrest and loyalty to the cause trumped every other civil argument. McKinty’s “Troubles Trilogy” follows Duffy as he navigates these murky waters with a moral compass of his own, a course which may serve him truly but not always well.
“In the Morning I’ll Be Gone” (314 pages, $15.95) is the final installment in the three-book set, and possibly the best, perhaps because McKinty has grown comfortable with the character and gives him a bit more rein. Duffy, on the outs with his own office, is recruited by MI5 for a very special mission: to track down a childhood friend who is also an IRA bomber so the British can capture him before something horrible happens.
Along the way, Duffy finds himself involved in another mystery: how a young woman found dead in a locked tavern four years previously really died. Police ruled it an accident. Her mother believes it was something else. Solving that crime, if it was one, could be the key to solving something bigger.
McKinty has a talent for developing captivating storylines and tying them all together. No red herrings here – every word and scene has a purpose. That he does this using characters that are complex and completely human makes the books all the stronger.
“In the Morning I’ll Be Gone” reads well as a stand-alone, but if you start with it, you will be bound to want to go back to the first two, “The Cold, Cold Ground” and “I Hear the Sirens in the Street.”
Summer reading with reliable friends is good, and it is even better if they take us someplace new. Harlan Coben, the master of mysteries with a double-twist ending, adds some clever touches to his latest, “Missing You” (Dutton, 399 pages, $27.95).
The book introduces a new investigator, NYPD Detective Kat Donovan. Her life is a mess, most of her family is dead, and years earlier she somehow blew it with the love of her life, the man she was going to marry. And then, after 18 years, his face pops up on a dating website and her life is, once again, irrevocably changed.
The photo is, of course, only the beginning. When Kat agrees to help a young man find his missing mother, it is purely personal – she thinks the mom might be with her own former fiance. Neither realizes that evil is afoot here in ways darker than anyone can imagine. Unaware of the danger, Kat forges ahead into situations that move from love and loss to matters of life and death. And more death.
“Missing You” is a fine introduction to Coben for those who are not already committed to him through his Myron Bolitar series. Like “Tell No One,” which is one of his best, it comes with the kind of resolution that makes you wonder what happens next. And leaves that up to you.
Easy Rawlins has the summer off but not his creator. The wonderful Walter Mosley takes a walk on the even wilder side with “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore” (Doubleday, 265 pages, $25.95) a racy narrative about Debbie Dare, a dark-black blond and blue-eyed (contacts) porn star who sees her chance to get out of the business the day her much older husband is found accidentally electrocuted while trying to have sex with a teenager in a bathtub. With loansharks lurking and frequent interruptions from her past, Debbie’s tale is more adventure than mystery, full of sex and emotion – rarely at the same time – on its way to something touching and, as much as Mosley is willing to go there, pure.
Also returning this spring is Italian Detective Inspector Bordelli, the Colombo-style hero of Marco Vichi’s stories set in 1960s Italy. “Death in Sardinia” (Pegasus, 464 pages, $25.95) has Bordelli in the uncomfortable position of solving the murder of a loan shark he never liked anyway. The mysteries here are top notch, but the reason to read is Bordelli himself.
Melinda Miller covers social issues for The News.